The LearnVest Pro-Con List: Should I Transfer My Balances to a New Credit Card?

The LearnVest Pro-Con List: Should I Transfer My Balances to a New Credit Card?

In our new series “The LearnVest Pro-Con List,” we’re helping you think through the positives and negatives of a common financial choice you may have to make.

The ultimate goal: to give you a quick-hit guide that can help you make a more informed decision. 

This week we’re tackling whether transferring your credit-card balances to a new card is a wise way to help pay down debt.


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To transfer or not to transfer? That is the question.

Whether 'tis nobler for the wallet to consolidate your credit-card debt, or suffer the slings and arrows of a high-interest rate is a common conundrum many of us have.

On the one hand, you may be tempted by those balance-transfer offers you receive in the mail.

On the other, there’s a lot of fine print you may be overlooking.

So is it better to open up a new account to take advantage of new card perks—or would you be better off chipping away at your debt on the plastic you already have?

While everyone’s situation—and credit history—is different, there are some salient points to keep in mind before you mail in that application.

Check out our pro-con list below for a bird’s eye view of how transferring your balances could help—or hurt—your debt pay-down strategies.

RELATED: I Want to Create a Plan for Paying Off Debt


  • Consolidating my balances onto a new card will help me see all my debt in one place, enabling me to better manage my payments.
  • I may be able to find a credit card with a low or 0% APR balance-transfer offer, which could save me a lot in interest.
  • A new card could come with some good perks, like airline miles, rewards points, or cash back.


  • Applying for a new card could mean a hard inquiry on my credit, which could ding my credit score.
  • Once the introductory period for a balance-transfer offer expires, my APR will increase.
  • The 0% APR may not apply to new purchases, so if I use the new card to buy things, I could accrue more debt at a high interest rate.
  • I'd likely be charged a balance-transfer fee of 2% to 3%.
  • If transferring balances nearly maxes out the credit limit on my new card, that could hurt my credit utilization ratio—and impact my credit score.

The Take-Away

Unless I’m sure I would qualify for a 0% APR offer—and can pay off the amount I transfer before the introductory period expires—I probably shouldn’t open a new credit card. My credit score could take some potential hits.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies. LearnVest, Inc., is wholly owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.


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